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Paza la Paz - A step towards peace in Colombia

by Stiftung Horyzon
Paza la Paz - A step towards peace in Colombia
Paza la Paz - A step towards peace in Colombia
Paza la Paz - A step towards peace in Colombia
Paza la Paz - A step towards peace in Colombia
Paza la Paz - A step towards peace in Colombia
Paza la Paz - A step towards peace in Colombia
Paza la Paz - A step towards peace in Colombia
Paza la Paz - A step towards peace in Colombia
Paza la Paz - A step towards peace in Colombia
Paza la Paz - A step towards peace in Colombia
Paza la Paz - A step towards peace in Colombia
Paza la Paz - A step towards peace in Colombia
Paza la Paz - A step towards peace in Colombia
Paza la Paz - A step towards peace in Colombia
Paza la Paz - A step towards peace in Colombia
Paza la Paz - A step towards peace in Colombia
Paza la Paz - A step towards peace in Colombia
Paza la Paz - A step towards peace in Colombia

For young Colombians it is particularly difficult to start their careers. On the one hand, only a few can afford to study. On the other hand, they are particularly affected by unemployment. With the "Paza La Paz" programme, Horyzon and YMCA Colombia are therefore supporting young people in finding employment.

Anyul from Ciudad Bolívar, a poor district in the south of the capital Bogotá, underwent training in entrepreneurship in the Horyzon programme. She learned how to turn business ideas into a functioning small business with the help of a business plan. Her idea of acting as an animator at children's birthday parties and similar events met with great approval in the neighbourhood. Thanks to a small start-up capital, she was able to buy costumes and other materials.

Now Anyul makes the children in Ciudad Bolívar laugh and earns just enough to pay the tuition fees.

Every year around 1,500 young people take part in the "Paza La Paz" programme and around 10,000 people benefit indirectly from the programme. The Horyzon programme helps young people from the poorest backgrounds to find new life perspectives. The trained youth leaders independently carry out projects against violence, drugs and corruption.

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Andres (19) and Jeison (16) have been members of YMCA in Guayabal, a rural village in Colombia without prospects and jobs for young people, for several years. YMCA Guayabal tries to solve this problem and supports young people in the production and sale of homemade food.
Since April 2016, Andres (19) and Jeison (16) have been learning how to make dumplings. The two young people have already completed two training courses, each lasting 80 hours.


Andres and Jeison come to the YMCA Guayabal site at 5.30 a.m. each Saturday to bake the dumplings by hand. At 10 am they have to be ready to sell the dumplings in the village or to the visitors in the YMCA centre. Each of them makes a daily profit of around CHF 30. Among other things, they can use it to buy school materials that they urgently need in order to complete their high school studies.
Andres has also recently enrolled in a gastronomy course at the local vocational school, where he can further deepen his knowledge. This course is run and financed by the Colombian government. The number of participants in these courses is very limited and Andres can only participate because he has already acquired practical knowledge in the YMCA course.

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Youth spreading messages of peace
Youth spreading messages of peace

2018 was the third year of the current phase of our program "Paza La Paz" in Colombia. As you can read in the annual report below, the program achieved its goals and made a positive impact in the lifes of the participating youth. This was possible thanks to the generous support from many donors like you. Therefore, we'd like to express our gratitude to you. 

Even two years after the signing of the peace treaty between the Colombian government and the FARC guerrillas, organized crime is still a daily occurrence. The government, army and police are unable to fill the power vacuum created by the demobilisation. Various so-called bacrimes (Colombian slang for bandas criminales or criminal groups) are fighting for dominance in the poor neighborhoods. This has led to an increase in murders and violent expulsions in some regions. In particular, representatives of human rights organisations, who work for the reparation of victims of the conflict, are threatened.

Horyzon's program "Paza La Paz" reached 1'596 young people in 2018 who otherwise run the risk of becoming involved in criminal activities like arms or drug trafficking. 54% of the participating youth were young women. The program with its four areas "Peaceful Coexistence", "Youth Participation", "Income Generation" and "Institutional Strengthening" was again carried out in poor neighbourhoods of seven cities in Colombia.

The young people are attracted to the program because of attractive activities such as hiphop, breakdance, football or dance and get to know the groups. They quickly realize that the program provides them with a safe place where they are treated with respect, non-violently and where all opinions are heard. This awakens their interest in the training program, which includes a total of 80 hours of seminars.

For example, during 30 hours, all 1'596 youth learned how to work for peaceful coexistence, how to recognize and defuse dangerous situations. This enables them to act as mediators in difficult situations. In addition, 223 of them have completed their training as youth leaders. They now pass on what they have learned to their own groups and thus increase the effect of the program. Through their own activities the youth leaders reached 4'310 peers. Kevin, a youth leader from Cali, says: "Through sport I motivate other young people to get to know all the opportunities that I have got myself thanks to YMCA".  

Furthermore, the participants attended training courses in income generation and youth participation. There the young people learned on the one hand how to earn money legally or how to go back to school. By the end of the year, 25 small-scale income generating projects had been established. On the other hand, the youth learn how to get politically involved in order to positively shape life in their neighbourhoods and to stand up for their rights. As a result, 131 youth were elected in some sort of citizen representation body. 

Training session in peaceful coexistence
Training session in peaceful coexistence

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Within the project Paza la Paz Horyzon has the opportunity to award 1-2 young Columbians involved in the project with a scholarships. Carol Lorena is one of the award winners and tells us her story:

My name is Carol. I am 17 years old and live in a neighborhood in Bosa, one of the largest areas of Bogotá. Our area is struggling with social issues such as displacement, drug abuse, gang crime, social cleansing and pollution.

I live together with my parents, my brother and my little nephew. He was left alone by his mother as a baby and we are taking care of him ever since. My brother committed a crime under the bad influence of his friends and drugs. He was arrested and is currently sentencing his house arrest. Although I live in a difficult sector and by my brother set a bad example with his life style, I have managed to go another way.

I am a high school graduate and learned about YMCA four years ago during a drug prevention campaign. I really liked the work of the organization and I started attending events on entrepreneurship, psychological help or art. My life really changed when I was 14 years old and became part of Paza la Paz. The project has awakened all the potential laying in me. It showed me my talents like dancing, public speaking or leadership, so I decided to start the School for Civic Education. I was involved in founding three youth groups. In these we have developed many social and cultural initiatives to promote peace in the neighborhood. Some of our activities were the Paza La Paz Festival, a documentary about the Rio Bogotá and the presentation of projects to the mayor. Thanks to YMCA I was able to participate in various trainings, such as being a youth leader in the Leadership School or attending lectures on sexual health and gender. All this enabled me to develop my leadership skills, and so I eventually became a student representative of my school. 

I passed on my experience in the neighbourhood. I came in touch with 600 girls and boys and showed them that it is possible to choose a good path. My dream is to become a social worker to achieve my life goals and at the same time to change the lives of children and young people in my area. That's why I applied for a scholarship from Horyzon. 

Many thanks to all and I hope my story inspires more teenagers to achieve their dreams.

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Kevin (right) is rightfully proud about his Gym!
Kevin (right) is rightfully proud about his Gym!

One of the many goals of our engagement in Colombia is convincing young people to stay away from violent groups by showing them a different way of life and helping them along in a period of transition. This is why we are so thrilled about stories like the one of Kevin, which we would like to introduce to you, our wonderful donors. 

The setting in which a child is growing up has a profound impact on his future and the one in which Kevin, now 24 years old, was brought up can certainly be seen as problematic. Both, his brother and his father were contract killers and Kevin spent his childhood and early youth in an illegal gang. In a lifechanging incident, a hostile gang killed his father in a vicious attack and burnt down Kevin's home. He was forced to flee into a different neighbourhood. This is where he first got in touch with the local YMCA and thereby the project of Horyzon. 

With Paza La Paz Kevin slowly started to realise that his previous way of life might lead into an impasse and a closer look at his former friends supported his views. Some of them became drug addicts, some spent time in prison and a few were even killed. From now on, Kevin was determined to take a turn in his path and that being "the strong guy of the neighbourhood" will not help his future at all. With the support of Horyzon, Kevin learnt how to solve conflicts in a peaceful manner, became a confident and motivated adolescent who was keen on earning his living in a legal way.

After successfully completing his Paza la Paz education, he returned to the neighbourhood he previously fled from and started to build a Gym. Currently, around thirty young guys from this poor neighbourhood go there to work out. Kevin uses these contacts to show them how he transformed and how they can stay away from violence too. While Kevin grew up with guns (firearms) he is now dealing with the other kind of guns (an expression used for a well trained biceps) on a daily basis and you'd have to say: This is so much better, isn't it?

You have made this possible for Kevin and many others

In 2017 the project of Horyzon reached a total of 1'718 youths in Colombia, and so far in 2018 we are on course to level this figure. 196 youths have been educated to become leaders who can, like Kevin, pass their knowledge on to other young people in the poorest neighbourhoods of Colombia and thus show them an alternative to joining violent and illegal groups. 203 young people from the project (119 of them women) were elected to public bodies such as neighbourhood councils, youth councils, etc. 67 income-generating projects, such as small grocery stores or a neighbourhood library, were launched too. In addition, 14'639 people benefited indirectly from the programme. These include, for example, the families of young people visited by social workers or the participants in activities organised by young people themselves. 

Our programme is only possible due to your donations and we would like to take this opportunity to express our profound gratefulness! Stay in touch, we will keep you informed.

Young Girls painting anti-violence art
Young Girls painting anti-violence art
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Organization Information

Stiftung Horyzon

Location: Olten - Switzerland
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @horyzon_ch
Project Leader:
Bruno Essig
Olten, Switzerland

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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